accent

in speech, emphasis given a particular sound, called prosodic systems in linguistics. There are three basic accentual methods: stress, tone, and length. In English each word has at least one primary stressed syllable, as in weath'er; words of several syllables may also have secondary stress as in el'e-va''tor. In English, vowels in unaccented syllables are often pronounced as regardless of the orthographic letter. Thus, the vowels of the second syllables in cir'cus, na'tion, ther'mos, eas'ily, saun'a, and sor'rel are all pronounced the same. Sentence stress, known as intonation or contour, includes three basic patterns: the statement, It's a dog, where the pitch pattern is level-high-low; the yes/no question, Is it a dog? where the pattern is level-high pitch; and the command, Catch him! which begins high and ends low. Both word stress and sentence stress occur in English. However, emphasis of certain words within a sentence is optional. Tonal languages, such as Chinese and Swedish, have a system of high:low and/or rising:falling tones. Duration or length of sounds (quantity) is used in some languages to create systematic differences. No language uses all three types of accentual systems. In writing, accent is also used to show syllable stress as in Spanish Mar

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